For an eye-opening look at one of the key tenets of our education system, this investigative piece by the LA Times is a must-read. The title says almost says it all: "Firing tenured teachers can be a costly and tortuous task". And the news gets worse from there:
"It's remarkably difficult to fire a tenured public school teacher in
California, a Times investigation has found. The path can be laborious
and labyrinthine, in some cases involving years of investigation, union
grievances, administrative appeals, court challenges and re-hearings.
Not only is the process arduous, but some districts are particularly unsuccessful in navigating its complexities. The Los Angeles Unified School District sees the majority of its appealed dismissals overturned, and its administrators are far less likely even to try firing a tenured teacher than those in other districts.
The Times reviewed every case on record in the last 15 years in which a tenured employee was fired by a California school district and formally contested the decision before a review commission: 159 in all (not including about two dozen in which the records were destroyed). The newspaper also examined court and school district records and interviewed scores of people, including principals, teachers, union officials, district administrators, parents and students."
The findings are eye-opening to say the least, as a couple of examples show:
"* Building a case for dismissal is so time-consuming, costly and
draining for principals and administrators that many say they don't
make the effort except in the most egregious cases. The vast majority
of firings stem from blatant misconduct, including sexual abuse, other
immoral or illegal behavior, insubordination or repeated violation of
rules such as showing up on time.
* Although districts generally press ahead with only the strongest cases, even these get knocked down more than a third of the time by the specially convened review panels, which have the discretion to restore teachers' jobs even when grounds for dismissal are proved.
* Jettisoning a teacher solely because he or she can't teach is rare. In 80% of the dismissals that were upheld, classroom performance was not even a factor."
It's an extraordinary state of affairs, and would never stand in the private sector of course. Yet, it's as natural in our highly politicized education system, as breathing.